There seems to be a widespread sentiment that singles are a sad sort…or maybe this is just the effect of reading too many Cathy comics in your youth (anything more than zero counts as “too many”).
It’s not so much that being single is a curse–it’s that you are now defined by your partnerless state. Your friends (who all speak in “we’s”) refer to you as their single friend and will try to set you up with their other errantly single friends. Among your friends, family, coworkers, and even random strangers there exists a complex and networked underground plot to rid you of your seemingly sorry state.
For some, though, singlehood is a choice…and a bold one at that. And those who remain single for a while will soon discover a certain tao that colors their socioeconomic check box.
With singlehood comes a great deal of independence. There’s no girlfriend to cringe at your favorite shirt with holes in both the armpits, no boyfriend to shave your legs for. You develop a haphazard grooming schedule that submits to no one…save for the infrequent first date you nervously prepare for by googling “first date conversation starters.” You are no one else’s “other half”–you are your own person.
Admittedly, this is a scary thought. You can get lonely. You pick up odd hobbies like juggling and puppetry and making YouTube videos no one will watch to occupy all your free time.
And yet you become a more interesting person exactly because you pursue whatever peculiar proclivity fills your head next. In entertaining yourself, you become entertaining and begin to enjoy your own company. If you embrace your singlehood (and in turn yourself), you’ll find strength in being alone but not lonely.
But even the strongest go through periods of crippling doubt and reappraisals of self-worth. You’re undateable, unloved, and god damn do you have fat shoulders! It’s those fat shoulders, you know, that’s driving all the boys away. Maybe if you cut down on your drinking you could drop those extra 15 pounds from your shoulders, you muse as pour yourself another Bulleit Manhattan. And then you laugh, savor the last spoonful of your Three Twins pint, and decide to invest in a few shrugs instead.
Occasionally you’ll snag a date–this will be the highlight of your month. Sometimes, you’ll coast for a week on an incredible high from a panty-wettingly good date before your text messages go unanswered. You might even score a free dinner if he doesn’t take you up on your flimsy double dutch offer. But most of these dates will fizzle out until you become unnervingly comfortable with and resentful of the panicked last-minute shaving of the legs before you meet the next Mr. I Don’t Think We Have Any Chemistry But The Sex Was Great.
Then again, your singlehood awards you the serendipity of discovering new people. Your peculiar pursuits, random dance class here and there, and trip to Thailand to “find yourself” all lead to new social interactions.
Sure, you’re on your own, but so are thousands of other people in San Francisco. Humans want to connect with each other–it’s in our blood…and flesh. Being single means you’re open to new opportunities with new people because you don’t have that gated garden that relationships tend to build.
Singlehood is a freedom we often don’t allow ourselves. We poke fun at singlehood because it’s hard to embrace and hard to do without feeling sorry for our unloveable selves. But mostly, we’re scared: scared of being alone and scared of encountering ourselves sans filter. And to that I say, “Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! ACK!”
The Sexual Manifesto is Christine Borden’s weekly column on sex in the city, sex and culture, and, well, sex. Got a tip for Christine (and it’s not in your pants)? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.